On Saturday, I published a guest post here. That’s not particularly uncommon. I have, of late, invited posts from guest authors. In fact, when someone emails me to express an opinion that is contrary to something I’ve written, my usual response is, “Why don’t you write a guest post on that, and I’ll publish it.”
A couple things come to mind about this stance. For one thing, I am only a person who writes books and a compensated blog because, starting in 1999, kind people shared their platforms with me. Sure, I suppose they thought I had something to say, but they also chose to give a 30-year-old youth pastor a chance to write books and speak at conferences. A decade-and-a-half later, I’m happy to do the same for other, new voices that I think you might appreciate.
Secondly, I strongly believe that writing is a meritocracy. If you have something interesting to say, and you’re relatively articulate, people will read your writing. So I feel like there’s not much to lose, and a lot to gain when I publish a post by a new voice.
What happened this weekend follows both those rules.
I’ve published a couple pieces about Slavoj Žižek. He’s not a household name, by any means, but among the readership of this blog, he’s a known commodity. A postmodern, Continental philosopher, he has a relationship with Christianity. He often talks about Christian theology, and he’s written about it. His ideas have been used extensively by friends of mine as diverse as Peter Rollins and David Fitch.
When Nathan, the author of Saturday’s post, emailed to tell me that he disagreed with Zane’s post from a week ago, and that he’s read some Žižek, I told him that he could write something up if he’d like. And he did.
When I got his post, I emailed to tell him that I think he was misunderstanding people’s interest in Žižek, and that I disagreed with the premise, but I went ahead and posted it anyway. The bottom line is that Nathan thinks that, while interesting, Christians should never look to Žižek for theological insight. In fact, he thinks that Christians should never take any theological insight from an atheist.
Well, I think that’s hogwash. (Nathan defends this as a teaching of the Orthodox Church, but I have not been able to substantiate that.) Theological insight comes from all sorts of places, atheists included. Indeed, if we’re reliant solely upon the church for theological truth, then two things are true: 1) God is bound exclusively to one human institution (a laughable idea), and 2) we’re pretty much screwed (because the church is so clearly fallible).
On Twitter, some people were justifiably questioning why I posted something like this. Maybe I shouldn’t have. But I don’t think that the post was stupid, and it surely wasn’t offensive. It was thoughtful, and it defending one perceptive, even if it’s not my own.
And, I think that this episode shows that premise #2 above holds: Nathan’s ideas, like my own, will rise and fall in the public square based on whether they’re good ideas and whether they’re well argued.
Read the post yourself, and you be the judge. UPDATE: Based on the behavior of that guest author, the post has been removed.